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A Nursing Home can be Covered by Medicaid

Remember Medicaid planning doesn’t simply mean meeting strict income and asset limits to qualify for long-term care insurance. You will also need to demonstrate you need the level of care typically provided in a nursing home setting. These health eligibility rules are valid if you apply for nursing home coverage or a Medicaid waiver program for coverage in your home. Each state has a level of care requirement and its own criteria to determine if you meet the mandated level of care. It can get complicated because eligibility criteria are not always clear.

Determining the level of care necessity usually includes:

  • The need for two or more activities of daily living constitutes bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, and mobility.
  • You require frequent medical care, like IVs or other injections, medications, or other medical treatment.
  • You exhibit behavioral problems such as aggressiveness or wandering away from home.
  • Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia impairs your cognitive ability; making decisions on your own is problematic, or you cannot correctly process information.

The state evaluates the assessment of a Medicaid applicant and, in many cases, will require a doctor’s diagnosis. The assessment generally requires the applicant to answer a series of questions about their abilities to perform activities of daily living and any behavioral issues or cognitive problems. There are further questions regarding the applicant’s family and their ability to provide support.

Understanding Medical Services Covered by Medicare

Medicare still covers the medical services you may need beyond nursing care along with institutional Medicaid. If you need to see a specialist or go to a doctor’s office, Medicare pays first, and Medicaid will cover your remaining costs like copayments, coinsurances, and deductibles. When applying for institutional Medicaid, consider the following:

  • The program considers you and your spouse together when counting assets and income. Typically, you can set aside a certain amount of assets and income to protect your spouse’s standard of living. This spousal amount does not count when applying for Medicaid.
  • You will still be able to keep a small amount of income for your allowance even though you qualify. The amount varies by state, and your local Medicaid office can provide more information. The remainder of your income will pay the nursing home.
  • There is a look-back period of up to five years for institutional Medicaid in most states. When determining your eligibility, your state will count any assets you have transferred in the past five years. If Medicaid determines any transfers violate the Medicaid eligibility rules, you may be penalized. Medicaid may opt to pay only a portion of your nursing home stay or none at all.
  • Owning your own home affects Medicaid eligibility and coverage. An elder law attorney can characterize your specific circumstances and how the equity in your home may count as an asset. When long-term care is no longer necessary, or you are deceased, these assets may repay Medicaid for your care coverage.

Nursing home level of care, also known as nursing facility level of care (NFLOC), Is not an easily definable term as there is no formal federal definition. Each state has the task of defining the term, and rules are not always consistent from one state to the other. Generally, there are four areas of concern, though not every state considers all four; physical functional ability, medical needs/health issues, cognitive impairment, and behavioral problems.

For those families with a loved one who requires more care than they can provide at home but do not require a high enough level of care to qualify for nursing home admittance, there is an in-between care type typically provided in assisted living. However, Medicaid coverage of this type of assisted living is very limited in numbers.

Nursing homes are experiencing very limited capacity, and waitlists can be years. Medicaid is adapting to provide this coverage type in-home to those applicants who may meet NFLOC Medicaid eligibility requirements but not pose a danger to themselves or others in a home environment. Perhaps using this as a springboard as a potential nursing home residence is waitlisted for full-time care.

Before applying to become eligible for Medicaid nursing home coverage, there is much to consider. Applications that are insufficient or incorrectly filed can create delays, and with limited space available, it can be several years on a waiting list before admittance can take place.

The need is more significant than ever before for long-term care in a nursing home. Meeting your state’s eligibility requirements can be a long and complex series of providing documents, answering questionnaires, having assessments and reviews, and filling out and filing forms. The scope of the project can be overwhelming. To get to your best outcome, don’t wait. Contact our Ruston, LA office today at (318) 255-1760. Proactive planning with an elder law attorney will help you understand and address all criteria you need to act on to succeed.

 

Methods to Finance In-Home Care

In-home care is the preferred living arrangement for many aging seniors. However, many medical conditions and personal care needs as adults age can cause this to become more difficult due to cost. The cost of in-home care varies from place to place, but generally follows the cost of living. Places where the cost of living is lower usually have lower costs for in-home care and the opposite is also true. In areas with a higher cost of living, in-home care is generally more expensive. Another challenge of paying for in-home care is the strict limitations on using Medicare and Medicaid to pay for in-home care. However, it is possible to pay for in-home care. Let’s look at some of the options.

Medicare and Medicaid

Although these two options are more limited in the in-home care covered, there are occasions where they can be used to pay for in-home care. Medicare generally pays for in-home care services for a period of time and most often occurs for a time after a patient is discharged from a hospital or rehabilitation facility. Treatment generally would not be covered for a chronic condition. Medicaid rules vary from state to state but are often similar to Medicare. All programs cover short-term in-home care when the patient has an acute condition. Medicaid offers long-term coverage in some areas, but this is often limited to patients who are ill enough to qualify for nursing home coverage. This care must be provided by a Medicaid-certified care agency. With Medicaid, each state runs its program differently and coverage will vary from state to state. In Louisiana, for example, Medicaid would not generally cover in-home long-term care.

Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage is an option for paying for in-home care. If the senior, age 62 or older, owns a home outright or owes little on the home, they can apply for a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage gives seniors the option of using the value of the equity in their home to get cash. The bank enforces strict rules about taxes, maintenance, homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage insurance. Therefore, it is important to do research on reverse mortgages and find a reputable bank, to lower the risk of defaulting on the reverse mortgage. Another important consideration is the length of time that care may be needed, as compared to the value of the equity. If a senior decides the reverse mortgage is a good choice for them, the cash can be used to cover the cost of in-home care.

Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefits

Aid and Attendance is an often-overlooked benefit available to veterans who are paying out of pocket for care. Veterans who served on active duty for 90 days, with one day during wartime, and who were honorably discharged, may be eligible for aid and attendance benefits. However, the qualification process is not easy and many veterans become frustrated when trying to do so.  As a result, the majority of veterans who may be eligible for the benefits never receive them.

Once qualified, a veteran can receive a monthly cash benefit, tax-free, to use for care. For veterans and their spouses, these benefits can be a major help in paying for in-home care. Surviving spouses of wartime veterans can also qualify for a monthly cash payment through the aid and attendance benefit.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is another possible way to pay for in-home care. If the life insurance policy is no longer needed to care for someone after death, it can be an option for paying for in-home care. A life insurance policy can be sold back to the company for a percentage of the value – usually 50 – 75%. This money can then be used to pay for in-home care. Many policies have flexibility, but some require the senior adult to be terminally ill. A policy with an Accelerated Death Benefit rider allows the policyholder to take a cash advance on the policy that is subtracted from the amount beneficiaries would receive. In this instance, the premiums are still paid and the policy still belongs to the policyholder.

Although in-home care is costly, the good news is that there are options available to help seniors pay for this care. The above are just a few options that may help seniors who wish to continue to live at home even when extra assistance is needed.

We help seniors and their loved ones find and pay for good long-term care using many of the options discussed above. We also create legal plans to protect the home and savings to make sure our clients never run out of money or options for good care. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact us. Please contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 or schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help with your long-term care needs.

What Happens When Your Doctor Leaves Your Health Plan?

A doctor’s visit for most people is an important event. Often, you must explain your ailment quickly and succinctly, trust that your doctor has your best interests at heart and will keep your confidentiality; and make yourself vulnerable and talk about health issues that may be uncomfortable. Having a good relationship with your doctor can alleviate all these issues and can even increase the quality of your healthcare. So, you have a good relationship with a doctor you like, and you find out he is no longer in your health insurance network. Now what?

First, let’s examine why doctors leave health insurance networks. Usually, doctors leave health insurance networks for normal reasons such as retirement or if they move geographic locations. They are professionals, after all, and just as you probably have had to move to a new job, they do the same. Sometimes, there are other more technical reasons, such as if the doctor is unhappy with how the health insurance network conducts business. You’ll most likely be warned ahead of time if your doctor is leaving your network so you have time to plan, however, your doctor and your health insurance provider are not legally obligated to inform you if he is no longer covered. Unfortunately, huge surprise medical bills are all too common and these can leave you financially crippled for years. This is why it is so important when you reach your open enrollment dates each year that you call your doctor’s office and ensure your doctor is still covered under your plan.

So, what do you do if your doctor leaves your network? You may have continuity of care protection, which enables you to retain the same level of care from your doctor, for the same copays and fees, temporarily. If you are a senior who participates in a Medicare Advantage plan, you have the option to leave your health care network if your doctor does and if the network change is “considered significant based on the [effect] or potential to affect current plan enrollees” according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidebook. If you are currently covered under a private plan and are considering switching, it is prudent to call your doctor’s office and ensure they are covered under the new plan you are considering.

What if you can’t switch plans? Often, doctors will allow you to pay cash for your visits. You may be able to negotiate a reasonable cash price with your doctor because they won’t have to bill your insurance, which would save them time and administrative costs. If your doctor’s cash price is relatively expensive, it may still be worth it to you to maintain continuity of care.

If the previous options are out of the question for you, the next best thing to do is just to ask your doctor if they have any referrals. After all, your doctor will know your situation best and how to provide the best care and may know someone else who will be a good fit for you.

Having a doctor you like and trust can be such a relief and it’s always an unfortunate circumstance when your health insurance network no longer covers that doctor. Fortunately, there are ways you can plan for this and methods to make a smooth transition to a new doctor. If you need assistance in this process or have questions about anything you have read, please reach out to our office. Please contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 or schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help with your long-term care needs.

 

This Year’s Urgent Priority: Affordable Long-Term Care

The challenges ahead are many as AARP reports that the population age 85 plus, the most likely to need long-term care, will more than triple between 2015 and 2050. Elected leaders must rethink institutional care and its affordability and make improvements while creating innovative long-term care options for those Americans who are aging in place. Recently the Milken Institute 2020 Future of Health Summit looked into the short-term future of long-term care and deemed improvements a most urgent priority for the US healthcare system.

The statistics are that as the nation’s population ages, 70 percent of Americans 65 or more will require long-term care at some point. This statistic represents many seniors who will need affordable care while the private long-term care insurance market has contracted. The Milken Institute Center for Future Aging is partnering with teams through the Financial Innovation Lab to make recommendations to expand options for affordable long-term care for middle-income Americans. Nora Super, senior director of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and executive director of the Milken Institute Alliance to Improve Dementia Care reports the group study has narrowed many examined solutions into three big ideas including:

  • A large scale Medicare Advantage demonstration project to test the effectiveness of home-based interventions and technology applications as it relates to reducing costs and improving care across the continuum.
  • Scaling up and adapting integrated care models to provide low-cost, high-value, flexible services for those enrolled with complex needs.
  • Identify the most beneficial and viable options for complementing private and public insurance solutions to expand long-term care coverage for the middle market.

The focus is on Medicare Advantage, which has grown in the past twenty years to allow more flexibility for participants to test new ideas and bring much-needed technologies into the home to prevent extensive stays in the long-term care system. These integrated care programs, according to Super, can bring together the long-term care and healthcare systems; however, the programs have not yet been scaled. Super has said, “Medicaid is the safety net for the nation but there is nothing for middle-class people. Costs are exorbitantly expensive.” Public-private partnerships do not meet the high demand for affordable long-term care as the industry has gone from one hundred private insurers to twelve.

As part of the Milken 2020 Health Summit, David O’Leary, president, and CEO of US Life Insurance Companies and Genworth Financial, stated, “This is a problem facing the country, this aging population we’re not prepared for. We can no longer ignore this. This is personal to everyone.” And O’Leary is right. The long-term care industry covers less than ten percent of the people who need it and an average claim of around 200,000 dollars. The number one reason for a person 65 or older to declare bankruptcy is a healthcare event.

While the healthcare industry professionals and government policymakers attend symposiums and discuss scalable, affordable, long-term care needs, more middle-class Americans fall into a cycle of impoverishment as they confront their immediate individual long-term care needs. Costly institutional care, Medicaid, or unpaid family caregivers seem to be the only solutions currently and are not particularly viable. The Medicaid system is straining to meet long-term care demands for the poor with long waiting lists to become residents at often substandard facilities with infection control deficiencies.

Medicaid planning, or long-term care planning with an elder law attorney is one avenue open to middle-class Americans to address long-term care needs without being bankrupted. There may be other options to help protect your life’s earnings as well. Aging Americans must determine how they will be able to handle their statistically likely long-term care needs. Waiting for the healthcare industry and government programs to catch up to your future needs may put you in jeopardy.

We help seniors and their loved ones plan for the possibility of needing long-term care so that their savings and home are not lost to the high cost of the care. If you would like to talk about your particular situation to see how we might be able to help. Please contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 or schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help with your long-term care needs.

 

Telehealth Services Added to Medicare

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it has increased access to Medicare telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that Medicare beneficiaries can receive more benefits from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

The terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” refer to the ability to exchange medical information from one site to another through electronic communication to improve a patient’s health.  With the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases, there is the urgency to expand the use of technology to help people who need routine care. Telehealth will keep vulnerable beneficiaries and those with mild symptoms in their home, but with access to the care they need by phone and video rather than requiring an office visit.

Prior to this change, Medicare would only pay for telehealth on a limited basis, and only for persons in a designated rural area. Now Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive the following services through telehealth: common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings. This will help keep more of the at-risk population (Medicare beneficiaries) able to visit with a doctor from home, rather than traveling to a doctor’s office or hospital which puts the beneficiary and others at risk. Telehealth visits will be treated the same as regular, in-person visits and will be paid by Medicare at the same rates.

These changes go into effect for services starting March 6, 2020, and will continue for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. For more information, view the fact sheet prepared by CMS.

Better access to telehealth is a big step in getting Medicare beneficiaries appropriate care in the least restrictive way. Contact our office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with any questions on your planning.

The Top Trends for Senior Living

As the silver tsunami of baby boomers continues to enter the senior living and care organizations markets, the general response has been uncertainty as to how to meet changing and varied senior needs while maintaining profitability.  Health Dimensions Group (HDG ) has released its list for 2020 entitled “Top Trends in Aging Services: Preparing for Historic Changes.” Owners and operators of senior living facilities must become responsive and make changes that are swift and diverse.

New Senior Housing Projects

Actuaries used to define senior housing construction projections and schedules are based on population data that are five or more years out. These metrics attempt to address occupancy and growth challenges as senior living occupancy rates fluctuated between the 86 – 88 percent mark for 2019 according to new data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). The third quarter of 2019 set a record for the highest demand of net new senior housing units while the construction data indicates a slowdown is near. The population projections of 2015 are not in accord with the latest senior housing demand. More cost-effective construction options and the repurposing of existing real estate is becoming a necessity to offset occupancy pressures and saturated markets.

Alternative Living Care Options

For lower-income seniors, alternative living care models, including the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), integrate Medicare and Medicaid financing; provide a comprehensive service delivery system. This coordination of care is an effort to defer or avoid seniors moving into a long-term care fee-for-service facility. Implementing this program and other, less costly models of care can help to address lower-income senior housing issues. These models will continue to leverage technology to drive innovation and efficiencies, as well as address workforce shortages.

Middle-Income Seniors

The most challenging market segment for senior living is that of middle-income seniors. Those seniors without sufficient resources for long-term care but who are also not in a position to qualify for Medicaid seem to face some of the most significant issues as it relates to housing and healthcare costs. According to McKnight’s Senior Living, investors and operators focus on the upper end of income distribution as their preferred targeted residents while leaving state and local programs to provide for low-income seniors. This scenario leaves a large portion of middle-income seniors whose living needs are not adequately being addressed.

Technology for Seniors

Applied digital technologies are changing the senior living sector, and the race to seize substantial market share in the active adult and under-addressed middle-class needs has not gone unnoticed by tech behemoths like Apple and Amazon. Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, who runs a venture capital firm, is predicting that a significant change is imminent for senior living. New startups, heavy on innovation and technology, will bring major disruption to existing senior living models and facilities very soon.

Investments in Senior Living Facilities

Existing operators and investors of aging senior living facilities are increasing investment in a wide range of offerings and services to remain operationally sound and competitive. One service strategy is to partner with home health agencies that provide therapy under Medicare Part B while a senior resident ages in place. Another is to create more public spaces within facilities. The creation of roof-top restaurants and park spaces on the property can increase senior socialization alleviating depression, which is a contributing factor to downward health spirals for seniors. Smartwatch technology that acts as a smart key for residents as well as a movement and health monitor reduces the number of daily interactions with staff and provides a way for loved ones to monitor their spouse or parent remotely. Creating more job flexibility for staff and dramatically increasing wages for hourly positions is a necessity to recruit and retain competent staff in a tight labor force.

While many of the baby boomers are still below the average age of residents that live in traditional senior communities, demographics point to the fact that the senior living industry will soon be under more pressure than ever to provide for a diverse and increasingly particular population. Market sector opportunities in middle-income senior living will drive innovation as competition increases, and companies vie for market share. These opportunities to realize new solutions will positively affect the entire senior income spectrum for housing.

We help seniors come up with comprehensive plans to address the aging process and the challenges that come with it. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your particular needs.

Contact our office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you.

Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

The findings from a ten-year study by the Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) reports of a link between hearing loss and health risks. The risks include a 50 percent greater risk of dementia, a 40 percent greater risk of developing depression and nearly a 30 percent higher risk for unintended falls.

Reuters Health cites data analyzed by researchers, combining the findings from 35 previous hearing studies with participants aged 60 or more, which establishes the connection between hearing loss and depression. The aggregate of the conclusions of these reports suggests that older adults who experience some form of hearing loss are 47 percent more likely to display symptoms of depression. The take away is that depression is often brought about by the isolation of an individual and hearing loss tends to create social isolation. Dr. Nicholas Reed of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine agrees with the findings published by Reuters. “First, hearing loss impairs communication and influences balance, which can lead to social isolation and decreased physical activity that, in turn, result in depression,” Reed said.

Beyond the problem of social isolation due to hearing loss is that the longer you wait to address the issue the greater the risk of associated cognition problems. An older adult may be able to hear words but not be able to understand their meaning cognitively. It is imperative to see an audiologist and test hearing capabilities to establish an informational baseline and make future adjustments accordingly. Overall, older adults who experience hearing loss tend to withdraw from society and are more likely to experience mild cognitive decline furthering levels of social and emotional loneliness.

It is estimated that 100 million people in the US are exposed to unhealthy levels of noise. Aircraft and automobile noise, leaf blowers and lawnmowers, car stereos and earbuds all contribute to the increase of hearing loss. Hearing loss lowers quality of life and can also have severe implications regarding personal safety. Potential danger warnings like smoke alarms, car horns, fire alarms, public safety announcements all require the ability to hear. Hearing loss limits everyday life experiences in our ability to socialize, work, and communicate. It also limits joyful experience like the sound of a child laughing, a bird singing, a loved song on the radio, or a gab session with a great friend.

Thus far there is no way to undo damaged hearing but other than cost; there is no downside to hearing aids anymore. Their look is discreet, they are easy to learn how to use, and professionally adjustable over time to compensate for increased hearing loss. Once you factor in the cost of a potential fall, increased risk of dementia, social isolation, and depression, the price of hearing aid(s) winds up being comparatively minimal. Although the study, as reported by Reuters, does not investigate whether treating hearing loss can prevent depression aging Americans should still seek medical attention when experiencing hearing problems.

Hearing is a complex biological phenomenon. First ears capture sound traveling through the air as a vibration in air pressure. The outer ear (pinna) catches the sound waves and indicates its direction, in front, behind, above or below you. The ear canal receives the sound wave and triggers vibrations to the eardrum which becomes amplified by tiny bones known as ossicles.

Then the amplified vibrations travel to the cochlea in the inner ear where the sound is translated into nerve impulses that your brain recognizes and processes as distinct sounds.

Hearing and its complexities and loss will continue to get a lot of attention moving forward. In a world full of headphones, earbuds, robust speakers, and unwanted environmental noise, all of us are at risk of having diminished hearing abilities. Turn down the sound whenever possible to improve your quality of life as you age. Hearing loss has a profound impact on your well being.

Be proactive in the monitoring of your hearing abilities and subsequent hearing loss as you age.  If we can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

You can get in touch with Goff & Goff at our Ruston, Louisiana headquarters by clicking here, or calling us at (318) 255-1760.

What’s the Difference Between Estate Planning and Elder Law?

The short answer: Both share similar concerns. The longer answer? The differences make all the difference.

The Concerns are Similar

No matter what age we’re in, life can deliver some hard knocks. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. We can get into accidents, especially when we’re young and under the impression that we’ll live forever. Whom would we like to be there for us if we can’t speak for ourselves? If we can’t pay the bills? Decide about our health care?

Both estate planning and elder law attorneys help you choose people you trust to stand in your shoes when you can’t speak for yourself.

As adults, we start families and assemble worldly goods. If we’re thinking realistically, we want to make sure our families are taken care of and who gets our property if the worst happens to us.

Both estate planning and elder law attorneys help you with those questions. Both kinds of attorneys also know how to protect your estate from tax burdens and to avoid the expense and delay of court proceedings.

The Differences Make All the Difference

Elder law expertise becomes crucial when we get older. We’re living longer, healthier lives – but nobody knows when we, or those whom we love, will get too sick to make decisions or to live independently.

It’s understandable, but not wise, to postpone thinking about these things. Delay or denial can mean that entire savings get wiped out paying for nursing homes. Misconceptions about government benefits can forfeit eligibility for them. If you want to retire from your own business, do you have a plan for a smooth and profitable transition? What quality of life can you protect? What housing arrangements can be made? What is the wisest allocation of financial resources to protect against as many foreseeable contingencies as possible?

This is where we elder law attorneys come into our own. We can help you face these difficult questions with your and your families’ best interests at heart. What we know can go far to spare you the distress and anxiety if you were caught unprepared. We know how Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security work. We can help you manage retirement income benefits. We can steer you to financial arrangements necessary if you or yours need long-term nursing care.

These are difficult, complicated questions that require particular knowledge to answer. We elder law attorneys have studied long and hard for that knowledge. We have learned how to help you plan to enjoy the life you have, plan for when life becomes harder with age, and have something left over for your legacy.

Estate planning is only the beginning.

At Goff & Goff Attorneys, we have extensive experience in dealing with both estate planning and elder law, along with their similarities and differences. If you or a loved one have any questions regarding your or their planning, please click here to send us a message, or give us a call at (381) 255-1760.

How to Age Well While Saving Money

Your senior years should not be plagued with money woes. The stress that money problems bring not only ruins your aging experience but can also be disastrous to your health. Rising health care costs and your increased need for health care can add up to big bills that can further tax your health. To age well, you must use sound financial judgment as well as make healthy choices for your body and mind. The goal is to remain as healthy as you can for as long as you can and have a healthy bank account to support those goals. Beyond the obvious, such as choosing the right insurance plan and saving money for retirement, there are other strategies you can implement to further a successful and happy retirement.

Chronic stress is known to worsen health problems and can also accelerate the aging process. Though everyone experiences and handles stress differently, it is important to identify the specific stresses in your life and hone in on its source to be able to address it adequately. Relationship stress, family stress, and work stress can be treated through meditation and gentle yoga. The more you practice, the more significant the mental and physical benefits you experience.

In the case of financial stress, meditation will not save you. You need a concrete plan to approach your problem. Develop a budget that will address which debts you need to pay off first and stick to the program. Learn to avoid excessive spending that puts you in a debt cycle. Once you are as debt-free as reasonably possible, learn ways to increase your savings.

An easy way to lower your expenditures and increase your savings is to view the world as your gym. Thirty minutes of brisk walking five days a week in your neighborhood is excellent for your body and your mind. Bring your cell phone, but only use it in the event of an emergency. Take in the outdoors around you and let your mind be free. You can be active doing leg extensions or squats in your own home. You can do several ballet plies while cooking a meal and toe raises while brushing your teeth. Before you get out of bed in the morning move your pillow out of the way and stretch out your spine; arms overhead and extending through your toes. The idea is to connect your daily routine activities to a specific exercise and do it every time you enter into that everyday behavior. If you have physical limitations, talk to your doctor before implementing at-home exercises or neighborhood walks.

Learn to limit the portions of food you eat. We are a nation of overeaters. In many countries around the world, it is unheard of to have a “to go” box from a lunch or dinner that is too big for consumption in one sitting. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend active men over 65 need 2,600 calories daily, while sedentary men require just 2,000; for women, it’s 2,000 if active, and 1,600 daily calories if sedentary. Pass on the heaping helping and pass on a second helping. By limiting the amount of food you eat, you can maintain a more healthy weight, which in turn can improve your health and longevity, as well as save money.

If you have room in your yard, start a vegetable garden, plant some fruit trees, and involve your friends to share in the workload and the resulting produce. If you don’t have a yard, join a community garden. Growing your food is an excellent way to increase the number of fruits and vegetables you eat and has the added benefits of making you physically active and socially engaged. By making a garden a group effort, you can prevent isolation which for many older adults is a risk factor for everything from depression to hypertension. If you have problems kneeling or being down on the ground, try using raised garden beds or even try gutter gardening. Gutter gardens are a simple way to grow vegetables that have minimal roots in gutters that are affixed to an outside wall at a height that is comfortable for you. Gutter gardens also remove the problem of bugs in the soil. A fruit and vegetable garden will lower your grocery bill and shift your eating habits to a more healthful plant-based diet.  Learn how to can or freeze your produce if you have a short growing season where you live.

Make a small investment to solve a significant problem. A grab bar in the shower or lowering the height of your bed can help you prevent a range of serious injuries from a fall. Fractures and head traumas often result in a rapid health decline and even death. Improve your balance with gentle tai chi exercises. Be sure you have adequate lighting in your home. Fix uneven floorboards and get rid of throw rugs. By being mindful of how you move through your home you can avoid an unnecessary fall which will save you money by avoiding medical treatment and might even save your life.

Kick bad habits and start with smoking. Just because you have not already developed lung cancer after decades of smoking does not mean you won’t, nor will it help prevent other lung problems like emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Replace a bad habit with a good one as proposed above. If you drink alcohol on a daily basis or sometimes to excess, consider cutting back or quitting altogether. Alcohol contributes to unsteadiness on your feet and can precipitate you to fall. Do not take more than the prescribed dosage of painkillers or anti-anxiety medications and never mix them with alcohol. It is easy to become addicted to these drugs as you age because often they are used in the treatment of chronic conditions. You can build a tolerance to them and need progressively stronger doses. Try to find alternative ways to address your pain or anxiety. Cut back on sugar and fatty foods.

If your day is not structured, create a schedule. Try to eat at regular times as well as have a predictable bedtime and wake up call. Your body will appreciate the regularity of life. Kicking bad habits to the curb can help you enjoy your retirement years with greater energy and health as well as save you a lot of money on bad habits that are expensive. Don’t tax your wallet and your well being.

There are many techniques for aging well and preserving your bank account. Some methods are simple while others require guidance by trusted counsel.

You can reduce the financial stresses of your retirement life by letting us create a thorough plan for your finances. Contact our office today by calling us at (318) 255-1760. You may also contact us through our website by simply by clicking here and filling out our contact form. 

Let’s schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.

Nursing Home Evictions: What You Should Know

Nursing home evictions are an issue for many elderly people. Reports of evictions and complaints against nursing homes attempting to evict patients are widespread. Nursing homes are businesses and eviction problems often occur for residents when financial issues arise.

There are federal regulations concerning nursing home evictions. However, it is largely dependent on the state to enforce these regulations. Some residents or their families choose to fight back with complaints and legal action. Unfortunately, many of these cases go unreported as is the case with other types of elder abuse.

Nursing homes do have guidelines that allow for evictions in certain cases. A resident may be evicted but the facility must follow the minimum guidelines of federal and state law to be successful. One reason an elderly person may be evicted is if their clinical or behavioral status puts others in the facility in danger. This is one of the reasons often cited for discharging patients involuntarily.

Force discharges are also commonly attributed to the patient’s care not being paid. This can happen when private pay patients run out of resources and fall back on enrollment in Medicaid.  This program pays substantially less for the same service and the home is looking to replace this lost income. Another common trigger for eviction notices occurs when Medicare patients change from being a patient under the Medicare program to requalifying under Medicaid.  This transition can mean a reduction in the resources the facility is being paid.

Involuntary discharge can also occur if the facility is unable to meet the resident’s needs or if it is necessary for the resident’s welfare.  A patient’s needs and the facility’s ability to meet those needs should be assessed before the person is admitted to the facility. For this reason, the inability to meet a patient’s needs should be a rare reason for discharge. If it is determined that the person no longer needs the care the nursing home provides, they can be discharged. Finally, if the facility is closing, patients can be legally discharged.

It is important for residents and their families to do their homework and be informed about the regulations governing nursing homes. Not only must nursing homes follow these regulations, but they must also follow strict procedural guidelines in order to evict. If these guidelines are not strictly followed, the discharge can be reversed. If a resident is threatened with eviction, this must be done in writing and must include a written reason for the eviction. If you or your family receives a discharge notice, contact an elder law attorney immediately.

Even if the resident does not want to stay in that particular facility, it is important to take the discharge notice to an attorney because it may affect the patient’s ability to get into another facility. The window for appeals is short so be sure to contact an attorney quickly in order to give the attorney time to build the case and file the appropriate documents. The Nursing Home Reform Act helps to protect residents. The problem is that many people are uninformed and miss their opportunity to appeal these evictions. A timely response is essential in these cases.

Living in a nursing home is a difficult experience for many patients and their families. A threat of eviction adds stress to the situation. The attorney is your best advocate as he or she is able to enforce the resident’s rights and protect them within mandatory time frames.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.